Answers to Common Questions About Vaccine Injury Claims

What vaccines are covered?

Not all vaccines administered in the United States are covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. However, most of the traditional vaccines, known as the childhood vaccines (DTaP, MMR, varicella (chicken pox), and polio), are covered. In addition, the seasonal flu vaccine is covered, as well as the newer human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, including Gardasil. The boosters tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are also covered, as are the vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcal (PCV, including Prevnar), and meningococcal. The full list covered vaccines are in the first column of the Program’s “Vaccine Injury Table [PDF].”

What injuries are covered?

Not all adverse reactions following a vaccination will be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Some reactions and conditions which are covered are listed in the “Vaccine Injury Table” which can be found at the Program’s “Vaccine Injury Table [PDF].” Those include, for instance, anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock occurring within four hours of tetanus-containing vaccines or MMR vaccine. Also included is brachial neuritis occurring between 2 and 28 days after a tetanus-containing vaccine.

Other illnesses or conditions are not listed by name, but may be entitled to compensation. Those require the person to prove that one of the covered vaccine listed in the Vaccine Injury Table caused the reaction. Our attorneys handle specialized, complex litigation involved in proving causation.

In all cases, recovery requires that the condition, illness, or injury must meet one of three criteria: (1) lasted at least 6 months after the date of the vaccination, or (2) resulted in you being in a hospital where you were required to have surgery, or (3) resulted in death.

Do I have to pay attorney fees and litigation costs?

No. The purpose of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is to enable persons who believe they have experienced an adverse reaction to a covered vaccine to file a claim with the assistance of experienced legal counsel at no cost. This is why you do not pay your attorney a percentage of your recovery, or any other fee, and why the Program pays those legal expenses whether you win or lose.

Where do I go to file a claim?

No matter where a person is located or received the vaccination, vaccine injury claims are made by filing a petition in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. However, it is rare that a petitioner will have to actually travel to the Court or appear anywhere during the process.  Our attorneys are admitted to practice in the Court of Federal Claims, and travel there when it is necessary to appear. They will also travel to see you when it is important to meet in person.

When do I have to file a claim?

To be eligible for compensation, the condition, illness, or injury must meet one of three criteria: (1) lasted at least 6 months after the date of the vaccination, or (2) resulted in you being in a hospital where you were required to have surgery, or (3) resulted in death. Even though most claims involve conditions that last 6 months or more, we encourage persons who suspect they or a family member may have experienced an adverse reaction to act sooner rather than later. Hopefully your condition will resolve within 6 months, but if it does not, knowing your rights is always a good idea, even if you wait to file the claim.

All vaccine injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations, meaning that it must be filed within three years of the onset of the condition, illness, or injury, or within two years if the claim is based upon the person’s death. There are very few and strict exceptions to this timing rule so it is important to act if you believe you may have a claim.

Does Vaccine Injury Pros represent persons where I live?

Yes. Our team can represent injured persons from each of the fifty United States. This is because no matter where the person is located or received the vaccination, claims are filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. We are admitted to practice in the Court of Federal Claims, and travel there when it is necessary to appear. We also travel to see you when it is important to meet in person.

All vaccine injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations, meaning that it must be filed within three years of the onset of the condition, illness, or injury, or within two years if the claim is based upon the person’s death. There are very few and strict exceptions to this timing rule so it is important to act if you believe you may claim.

Can any lawyer represent a person with a vaccine injury claim?

Not necessarily. Claims are filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., not a local court. Lawyers representing petitioners must be admitted to practice in the Court of Federal Claims. Most lawyers who handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee—like car accidents, slip and falls, and workplace injuries— are not admitted to the Court. More importantly, they are not familiar with vaccine injury claims. Most do not even know of the existence of the Court’s program devoted to compensating persons injured by vaccines.

Our attorneys are licensed with the Court to handle these types of claims and understand that it is specialized, complex litigation, requiring knowledge and experience unique to representing persons suffering from an adverse reaction to a vaccine. And because the fees of the lawyer representing a petitioner are paid through the Court, not from the injured person’s recovery, injured persons are encouraged to be represented by an attorney, because it can be done at no cost.

All vaccine injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations, meaning that it must be filed within three years of the onset of the condition, illness, or injury, or within two years if the claim is based upon the person’s death. There are very few and strict exceptions to this timing rule so it is important to act if you believe you may have a claim.

What is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was formed by Congress in 1988 to provide a federal “no-fault” system for compensating individuals or families of individuals injured by covered vaccines. Funds for the compensation come from an excise tax of 75 cents on every dose of covered vaccine that is purchased in the United States. The Program is jointly administered by three federal entities: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Claims for compensation are filed as petitions with the Court, and the persons filing the claims are called “petitioners.” Almost always petitioners are represented by private attorneys, who must be admitted to practice in the Court. A person injured by a vaccine is not allowed to bring a lawsuit against the company that produced the vaccine or against the doctor, nurse, clinic or pharmacy which administered it.

What is VAERS? Is a report to VAERS the same as filing a vaccine injury claim?

NO. VAERS is NOT a vaccine injury claim. VAERS stands for the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. It is a national safety surveillance program sponsored by agencies of the federal government to collect and analyze information about adverse events and possible side effects that occur after the administration of vaccines. In addition to the person (or parent/guardian of the person) experiencing the adverse reaction, a report to VAERS can be made by the provider administering the vaccination, care givers, healthcare professionals (doctor, nurse, hospital, clinic), state immunization programs, manufacturers of the vaccine—generally anyone with knowledge of the situation.

VAERS is NOT the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. A report to VAERS is NOT a vaccine injury claim. If you or anyone else reports your adverse reaction or condition to VAERS, it is NOT a claim to the Program for this type of injury. A report to VAERS will NOT extend the time to file a claim to the Program.

Everyone’s situation is different. Our team is ready to discuss your specific questions with you.

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